It was right after the Little League World Series U.S. championship game – the moment the Red Land Little League team rode into Lewisberry on a firetruck in front of thousands of cheering fans – that L.A. filmmaker Jameson Hesse knew he wanted to turn their story into a movie.
“When the firetrucks came, that moment was unreal,” Hesse said. “It was a unique moment in history.”
Many of those same fans who cheered on Red Land that August night turned out to support the team in Camp Hill Wednesday for an official announcement that a feature film about the Red Land champs is in the works.
Hesse, a Lewisberry native who played baseball for Red Land growing up, and A.J. Ferrara, owner of Magic City Pictures in Fort Lauderdale, are taking the lead on production of the film, which will be called “Against The Odds.”
The news came as a surprise to most of the team, who found out about the film about a month ago.
Their first reaction was, “Can Adam Sandler play me?” Hesse said.
“It’s really surprising because there are so many teams that win the U.S. championship that never get a movie made,” Red Land pitcher Cole Wagner said. “I think it’s because our community is so small … It’s a good background to start with a small town and do something so great.”
But Red Land’s Chayton Krauss said he always thought Red Land's story was significant and would eventually turn into “something big.”
“It’s cool because I know it’ll be a good movie that I could buy and have forever,” Krauss said.
The film will give Red Land baseball fans a behind-the-scenes look at the team’s journey to the U.S. championship game, starting at the beginning – tryouts, Hesse said.
“It’s stuff no one has seen before like practices,” Wagner said. “They’re a lot different from other teams. We make them as game-like as we can.”
Actors James Wilder (“Melrose Place”), Peter Dobson (“Forrest Gump”) and E.G. Daily (voice of Babe and Tommy Pickles from “Rugrats”) as well as Steadicam pioneer Ron Vidor have already signed on to being part of the project, Hesse said.
Hesse and Ferrara are also seeking an A-list actor to play Red Land coach Bret Wagner.
A 28-day film shoot is scheduled for August at locations in Lewisberry and Williamsport, Hesse said. The film is expected to be released in 2017.
Hesse and Ferrara also have plans to make a documentary, called “The Making of ‘Against The Odds,’" as a companion piece.
Watching the community rally together to support this team was something Hesse said he’d never seen before.
“I want to replicate what I saw in the community and bring them together again so they can be a part of this,” he said.
Hesse's and Ferrara's goal is to raise $500,000 through Indiegogo and invite sponsors to be part of the production team. Everyone who contributes will receive a perk package, and high-level sponsors will receive product placement, stadium banners, speaking roles in the film and visits to the set.
To contribute and become part of the filmmaking team, visit www.againsttheoddsmovie.com.
A portion of the net profits will be donated to Red Land for a new youth baseball complex.